New MG ZS EV vs new Renault Zoe
Renault has upgraded the Zoe with a super range, while MG is undercutting every comparable electric car. Who has the brighter idea?...
Renault Zoe R135 GT Line
- List price - £32,120*
- Target Price - £30,549*
Doesn’t look a lot different on the outside but has been thoroughly overhauled.
(*before £3500 government grant)
For all the hype around Tesla, and as much as you might dream of owning a Model 3, a Model S or perhaps even a Model X, there’s more than a reasonable chance you don’t have the wherewithal. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider an electric car at all, because there are now quite a few that offer many of the same perks for a much lower price.
So, assuming that you need a reasonable boot and rear seats that can comfortably accommodate adults, what are your cheapest options? Well, the Renault Zoe is certainly one; this car came out in 2013 but has just been thoroughly overhauled, with a bigger battery, a new interior, a swanky infotainment system and the option of a more potent motor.
Prices start at £25,670 (after the Government’s £3500 grant), but here we’re testing the range-topping GT Line, which gets all the gadgets you’re likely to want. Meanwhile, the MG ZS EV can cost just £22,495 (again, after the grant), although we’ve picked the range-topping Exclusive for a closer match with our chosen Zoe.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Although the Zoe offers two power outputs (108bhp or 132bhp), you get the stronger motor as standard with GT Line trim. Don’t expect anything remotely close to Tesla performance, but acceleration is still punchy away from the line and you can easily keep up in the outside lane of the motorway.
The ZS is quicker – not hugely, but put your foot down and it surges forth with noticeably more vigour. In fact, in the wet, you have to be a bit gentle when pulling out of junctions, lest the 141bhp motor spin up the front wheels.
Lift off the accelerator pedal in either car and you feel yourself slowing down as the regenerative braking system harvests energy to replenish the battery. And you can strengthen this effect so that you’ll need the brake pedal less often.
Performance isn’t just about how quickly you can speed up and slow down; it’s also about how far you can travel between charges. Officially, this Zoe can achieve 238 miles, compared with 163 for the ZS – unsurprising, considering the French car is more aerodynamic and has a bigger battery.
In our real-world tests, the Zoe went a very respectable 192 miles on a full charge (slightly farther than the entry-level Tesla Model 3). We were unable to test the ZS, due to unreliable weather, but it’s likely to be at least 50 miles adrift in equivalent conditions.
The Zoe is the more enjoyable car to drive as well. Its steering is heaps more precise and gives you a better sense of connection with the front wheels, and the car sways a lot less through bends. However, that’s hardly surprising when it’s a low-riding small hatchback rather than an SUV, and it’s not as though the MG is a wobbly blancmange.
You’d imagine the ZS’s softer suspension would yield a comfier ride, and that’s indeed the case on undulating faster roads. But over rippled or pocked asphalt, it does a passable impression of someone on a pogo stick. Along many roads, then, the Zoe’s firmer but better-controlled ride is less irritating.
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